Lewis Hamilton has cemented his legacy as a five-time world champion with a fourth-place finish at the Mexican Grand Prix.
Only needing five points after his third-place finish last weekend at the United States Grand Prix, it was almost a formality that Hamilton would secure his fifth championship.
Last time out, it was supposed to be Hamilton’s legacy defining moment, but excellent driving by Kimi Räikkönen and some questionable tactical decisions by Mercedes ultimately cost Hamilton glory in Austin.
This time around, nothing could stop him. Hamilton had the knowledge he could finish as low as seventh, even if Sebastian Vettel won the race to secure the title.
On a track where Red Bull are generally the strongest team due to the adverse effects of high altitudes on the engines, it was no surprise they qualified first and second.
The surprise was Daniel Ricciardo securing pole rather than Max Verstappen. Verstappen controlled the practice sessions, was fastest in Q2 of qualifying, and was on pole position after the first set of runs in Q3. Ricciardo pulled out the lap of his life to pip Verstappen to pole.
The race was always going to be intriguing as Mercedes and Ferrari had the power advantage in the first part of the circuit, but Red Bull’s aerodynamic package made them faster in the second and third part of the track.
An enthralling and interesting race due to heavier than expected tire wear and huge pressure on the brakes, Verstappen was first into the first corner and controlled the race. He’s now won the 2017 and 2018 Mexican Grand Prix, as well as picking up his second victory of the 2018 season.
Red Bull’s engine issues came back to haunt them at the worst possible time. Ricciardo, who was defending his second-place from Vettel, suffered another engine failure leading to his eight DNF of the season.
Hamilton knew he only had to finish to win his fifth title and backed off closer to the end, coasting for the last 15 laps. Earlier this year, he signed a one-year extension to his current contract, which will keep him with Mercedes until the end of the 2020 season. Hamilton’s expected to earn between £30m and £40m per season, depending on bonuses.
Eyes will turn to the Constructors Championship which has yet to be decided. It’s expected Mercedes will win the title for the fourth consecutive year, having a huge lead over Ferrari.
The final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi will hold no competitive edge at the top of the drivers’ charts, but everything is still to play for in terms of constructor standings.
Categories: Formula 1